The 38 member libraries and archives of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL) collect, care for, and share rich collections of internationally significant materials with a worldwide audience. The collections of PACSCL member libraries—which include university libraries, independent research libraries, government archives, and Philadelphia’s public library system—contain more than 4 million rare books, 260,000 linear feet of manuscripts and archival materials, and 9 million photographs, maps, architectural drawings, and works of art on paper. With a mission to “encourage scholars, educators, and other diverse audiences to explore and engage with member institutions’ uniquely rich holdings,” the organization develops projects and programs to benefit member institutions and their diverse constituencies and to build the professional capacity of librarians and archivists. In 2018, PACSCL received a Center Discovery grant to explore new methods for telling the stories of Philadelphia’s rich heritage of resistance by broadening accessibility to little-known documents held in the collections of 38 member libraries.
Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL) will embark on a discovery process exploring new methods for telling the stories of Philadelphia’s rich heritage of resistance, and surfacing little-known materials held in special collections. Through guided discussions, listening events, town halls, and larger public events, PACSCL seeks to create a dialogue between its 38 member libraries—which include university libraries, government archives, and Philadelphia’s public library system—and communities of activists, teachers, students, and journalists, to give voice to both historical and current grassroots movements in ways that the consortium’s institutions traditionally have not. The historical and cultural materials within PACSCL members’ collections document three centuries of activism, from groups working to abolish slavery to the recent Occupy Philadelphia public demonstrations around issues of economic inequality. The discovery project will consider how to make these materials accessible to a broader audience and will culminate with a public event that encourages attendees to consider themselves partners in chronicling resistance movements in the 21st century and beyond.
Additional unrestricted funds are added to each grant for general operating support.